וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ זָהָב טָהוֹר מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ תְּצַפֶּנּוּ

And you shall cover it with pure gold on the inside and on the outside you shall cover it (25:11)

 

The Gemora tells us that Betzalel make three Arks, a golden Ark for the outside, another golden Ark for the inside, and a wooden Ark in the middle.[1]

 

Since there was gold on the inside and gold on the outside, what was the point in putting wood in the middle. Surely the Ark could have been made of one solid big gold piece? The Daas Zekeinim answer that if it would have been totally made of gold, it would have been too heavy to carry.

 

From here we see an incredible insight into Hashem’s attitude towards holiness. The Ark, which was the holiest object in the Mishkan, made to hold the broken tablets that Hashem created together with the tablets that Moshe carved, had to have a layer of wood instead of gold, to avoid causing difficulty to those who would have to carry it. The message is clear, even when it comes to holiness and religiousness, one must always consider how his actions will affect the people around him.

 

This message was truly exemplified in the last years of Rav Yisrael Salanter’s life, when he was too ill to supervise the matza baking in the city before Pesach. So, he sent some of his best students to supervise the entire process. Before they departed for the bakery, they asked their teacher which religious stringencies they needed to be careful about in their task. Rav Yisrael answered them “The woman who cleans the floors in between each baking is a widow, be careful how you speak to her.”

 

 


[1] Yoma 72b

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